2022 Hyundai Kona N

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$34,200

starting MSRP

2022 Hyundai Kona N
2022 Hyundai Kona N

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

1 trim

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2022 Hyundai Kona N review: Our expert's take

By Aaron Bragman

Competes with: There’s really nothing like it in the U.S. market

Looks like: A racier, high-performance version of the latest Kona

Drivetrain: 286-horsepower (maximum), turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine; eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission; front-wheel drive 

Hits dealerships: Fall 2021

Hyundai has unveiled its first N-badged SUV — the 2022 Kona N — and it looks to be a tasty treat. To date, Hyundai has focused its N performance division efforts on sedans, bringing global vehicles to market like the phenomenal i30 N but keeping those autobahn-burners out of the U.S. market. We’ve had the incredibly good Veloster N, but other N-badged American-market Hyundais have all been “N Line” vehicles — racier looking, but not more powerful. 

Related: The 2020 Hyundai i30 Fastback N Is the Hyundai You Want But Can’t Have

It’s Got the Looks

Changes to the updated 2022 Kona make for a more aggressive look all around and among the biggest are body-colored fenders instead of the Kona’s normally gray plastic ones along with 19-inch N-specific wheels. There’s also a new color for the Kona N, a riff on the Performance Blue hue that we enjoy so much on other N vehicles. This one is Sonic Blue, and will be exclusive to the Kona N (for now, says Hyundai). 

Up front, there’s a new lip spoiler under the bumper, a functional double-wing roof spoiler out back and lower side skirts that Hyundai says enhance aerodynamic efficiency. The lower air intakes are bigger to provide better engine cooling during track hot laps. 

It’s Got the Goods

Despite the fact that crossovers and SUVs in general have traditionally made terrible performance cars due to their extra mass and tall driving positions, Hyundai’s President and Head of R&D Division Albert Biermann insists that the Kona N will be different. “Kona N is a true hot SUV with the performance level of a hot hatch. It breaks the rule that SUVs are less fun to drive. As an N model, it goes beyond the limits of an ordinary SUV,” he said in a statement. “Kona N can carve corners on the racetrack and bring excitement to everyday driving.” 

Equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making a 280-hp (boostable to 286 briefly via a button on the steering wheel) mated to a high-performance eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with rev-matching function, the Kona N has the goods that make the Veloster N a riot to drive. Front-wheel drive will be the only configuration, presumably to keep weight down — the hot hatch crossover weighs in at just about 3,300 pounds, and Hyundai says it can run from 0-to-60 mph in 5.5 seconds with launch control activated. 

The body structure itself has received some attention to boost stiffness, and the handling got some tuning attention in the form of new strut ring structures and an electronic limited-slip differential for control of torque distribution.

There’s also a lot of N-specific gear onboard to help it go faster. Like the N Corner Carving Differential mentioned above, there are a lot of electronic adjustments available as part of the N Grin Control System, which comes with five drive modes: Eco, Normal, Sport, N and Custom. These adjust the engine control computers, stability control, exhaust sound and steering response. The Kona N also has an electronically adjustable suspension like other global N models. There are also several N modes for the electronically controlled transmission that you can choose from: N Grin Shift is meant for spirited fun driving, N Power Shift for maximum acceleration and N Track Sense Shift for track driving. 

It’s Got the Tech

Hyundai is targeting the gaming community with the new Kona N, if the onboard tech is anything to go by. It features a gaming-style head-up display with graphics meant to emulate racing simulator games — right down to a track position graphic loaded for various racetracks around the world. Activate N or Sport modes, and the HUD switches to a configuration that communicates lap time, N track maps and other features. There are customizable N buttons throughout the interior that can be used to preset a number of the Kona N’s various adjustable features as well, allowing a driver to have a one-touch preset to change the Kona N’s performance characteristics. 

Inside, the Kona N gets custom N Design sport seats wrapped in leather and fabric, a leather-wrapped N Design steering wheel with paddle shifters, an N logo leather-wrapped shift knob and blue stitching throughout the interior. A Harmon Kardon premium eight-speaker audio system is included, and both the gauge cluster and center console screen are 10.25-inch digital displays, with the center console being a touchscreen. Wireless device charging and Hyundai’s digital key smartphone function will also be included. Electronic safety aids are also included as part of the package: forward collision avoidance, lane-keeping, lane-following, driver attention, high-beam, blind spot collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic, adaptive cruise control and safe exit warning assist systems.

On Sale

Hyundai says that deliveries will likely start at the end of the year. Pricing has not yet been announced, but given that the Kona currently tops out at just under $30,000, it would not be surprising to see the Kona N sticker in the mid-$30,000 range. 

Related Video: 2021 Hyundai Elantra Review

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Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman grew up in the Detroit area, comes from an automotive family and is based in Ann Arbor, Mich. Email Aaron Bragman

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.0
  • Interior design 5.0
  • Performance 5.0
  • Value for the money 4.5
  • Exterior styling 5.0
  • Reliability 5.0

Most recent consumer reviews

4.9

Kona N - 1st Track CUV

This car is a hoot to drive and it also causes lots of glances over as you tear away from other cars when you are simply just driving around. Even in eco mode the exhaust has some nice notes. The only issue is the suspension, but that should be expected given that this is a track ready car.

4.7

A very practical adult Go-Kart!

I bought the only white Kona N available east of the Mississippi River at the time of sale. It is the most fun vehicle I have ever owned after owning a string of great vehicles starting with a then-new 1968 Z28 Camaro. Subsequently, I sold the quickest car I have ever owned- which was a 2010 335I BMW (With the "M" Performance Package and JBM/Barger Performance Module without ever looking back! M

4.9

A true enthusiast car masquerading as a crossover!

I’ve had my Kona N for a week now and it’s an absolute hoot. First, the amount of customization the N cars give you is unparalleled at this price point. The stock N mode cranks everything to 11, but it can be a bit much for commuting. Fortunately the custom mode lets you tweak everything from the suspension to transmission’s responsiveness. I personally like to have everything cranked to the max other than the suspension, which I leave in its lowest setting, and the exhaust, which I keep in sport rather than sport +, but you are free to season to your own tastes. In its softest mode the ride quality is fine for daily driving, just don’t expect it to feel like a Lexus or Cadillac. The fun factor and overall performance are amazing. The steering has a ton of feel, is quick, direct, and well weighted with minimal understeer. The throttle response is instant, and I personally don’t pick up on much turbo lag. The car hugs the road and pulls out of corners like a traditional hot hatch, and the brakes are great. They’re potent but progressive-they come on steady and give you a ton of confidence, but they’re not an on/off switch, which I really appreciate. Hyundai’s wet dual clutch is one of the best automatics out there as well…really the only autos I’ve driven that can match it are in much, much more expensive cars. And the SOUND…just wow. I have no idea how the N folks make a four cylinder sound this amazing, but they do. In sport mode it sounds phenomenal and sport+ you get crackles and pops for days. Considering most performance 4 cylinders sound like angry vacuum cleaners, this is a welcome change. While all of this is great, what really brings it all home for me is the day to day livability, and in this regard I think the Kona N has a leg up on the Elantra N, which I’ve also driven. The seats are great. They hold you in but don’t feel too stiff, and the leather/suede combination (I’m not sure if they’re real or imitation materials, but they feel great) is nice. While the interior won’t be confused for a luxury car, it feels solidly built and all the touch points are nice enough that the car never feels cheap. All of the lighted interior parts illuminate in blue as well, which is a cool touch that people don’t seem to be talking about. As a daily driver it really gets the job done, and you can fit four average sized adults in it no problem…although people above 6 feet will probably struggle in the back seat, so keep that in mind. You also get the versatility of a hatchback which always comes in handy, and best of all, if your significant other isn’t an enthusiast or doesn’t want you driving something too compromised, this is a perfect middle ground. It gives you all the versatility of a small SUV with all of the fun of a hot hatch. If this sounds like something you’re into, go test drive one! Just be warned…you might leave with it. I checked out the N cars because I was curious and had some free time on a Sunday…but sure enough one appeared in my driveway a few days later. I used to daily a MK 7.5 GTI, and have been behind the wheel of some cool cars…including the current Camaro, several prominent German performance sedans and SUVs, a Golf R, a few Miatas, and others. At the end of the day I don’t think anyone is doing affordable fun better than the Hyundai’s N division. There are cars that are faster, cars that will be better at the track, comfier cars to daily, etc. But as far as pure driving joy for the money goes, look no further. Half the time I spend behind the wheel I’m giggling like a kid. To me, that’s what it’s all about, and if that sounds good to you I can’t recommend the Kona N as well as the other N cars enough. No one is making cars like this anymore, so enjoy them while we’ve got em.

See all 4 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car program benefits
Bumper-to-bumper
60 months/60,000 miles
Corrosion
84 months/unlimited distance
Powertrain
120 months/100,000 miles
Maintenance
36 months/36,000 miles
Roadside assistance
60 months/unlimited distance

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